Useful Software

Here is a List of software that I frequently use and would recommend for anyone who is interested. At the end I listed a section for operating systems with links for their main pages for general information or downloading.

Also, please let me know if any of the links give an error or you are directed to the wrong site and I will fix them as soon as possible. Enjoy.

Security

  • Webroot Secure Anywhere (Paid)
    • Excellent cloud based antivirus software that received near perfect scores on PCMag’s tests. I personally use it.
  • COMODOPersonal Firewall (Free)
    • Excellent personal firewall to use in conjunction with Webroot antivirus (not the security suite option which has a built-in firewall)
  • Zone Alarm Firewall(Free)
    • Similar to above
  • Panda Cloud Antivirus(Free)
    • Very good antivirus option for those who cannot justify spending precious cash on security software. (I used to use this before switching to a paid option)
  • AVG Antivirus(Free)
    • Another good antivirus program that has a more traditional user interface that most are used to.
  • Malwarebytes Antimalware(Free)
    • A good tool for getting rid of any hard to remove malware that may have managed to make it past your other defenses.
  • Superantispyware(Free)
    • This is very similar to Malwarebytes antimalware.
  • Sandboxie(Free)
    • This allows you to browse the web or run programs  in a so-called “sandbox” which separates any activity generated in the sandbox from your operating system. Thus introducing a barrier so that viruses and malware do not spread to your computer.
  • LastPass(Free)
    • This is an excellent browser plugin that I use extensively. It allows you to only have to remember one master password. Once you are signed in the program will automatically log you in to any websites you normally log in to. It also has form filling capabilities for addresses and credit cards. All of the information is encrypted for security and stored in the cloud so that you can use it on any computer.
  • TrueCrypt(Free)
    • This is disk/system encryption software that utilizes AES, Twofish, and Serpent encryption systems or a combination of each. This is good especially for laptops to prevent someone from gaining access to any sensitive files that are stored on you hard drive in the event that you computer is snatched up in your local coffee shop.

Miscellaneous

    • Random Password Generator
      • This tool generates random passwords and allows you to select the criteria for which to base the passwords on.
    • Password Strength Check
      • Note: This does not actually tell you how secure the password is. It is merely a statistical exercise that tells you how long it would take to calculate all of the possible permutations of the given password. It will help you determine what goes into making a secure password.
    • Internet Connection Speed Test
      • Good for testing the actual speed of your internet connection. Then you can see how badly your internet service provider is lying to you.
    • Network Vulnerability Tests
      • This web-based tool scans your home network to test for vulnerabilities to attack from the outside.

Utilities

  • CCleaner(Free)
    • This tool scans and removes temporary files, clears web browser history etc.
  • Advanced System Care(Free)
    • This utility scans and fixes registry errors, checks for hard disk errors, etc.
  • Freemake Video Converter(Free)
    • This is a good tool for converting video files to just about any format you could want.
  • Recuva(Free)
    • This one scans for recently deleted files and attempts to recover them. It is generally able to recover files and folders as long as the disk sectors haven’t been overwritten.
  • Revo Uninstaller(Free)
    • Completely uninstalls programs and scans your registry to delete all items.
  • Speccy(Free)
    • Scans your computer and Displays detailed information about your hardware and operating system.
  • Picasa(Free)
    • Picture organization tool with some basic picture editing tools.
  • GIMP(Free)
    • Cross platform picture editing form that has tons of features. Great and simple tool.
  • Team Viewer(Free)
    • This is an excellent tool to remotely connect to a computer for repairs at a distance or walking someone through computer problems.

Office/Productivity

  • Libre Office(Free)
    • This is a free alternative to Microsoft Office. I has full compatibility with Office files (Word, Excel, Power Point, etc).
  • Foxit Reader(Free)
    • This is a PDF reader and editor. I personally use this in place of Adobe Reader due to its editing capabilities.
  • PDFSAM(Free)
    • This stands for PDF Split and Merge. This allows you to split, merge, and rearrange PDF files to your liking.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird(Free)
    • This is a multi-platform email client that allows you to manage multiple email accounts without having to log in to your account in a browser every time.
  • Dropbox(Free)
    • This allows you to back up files and folders online so that you can access them from any computer with an internet connection whenever you need them. Or it can just be used for general backups.
  • SyncToy(Free)
    • This allows you to sync selected files/folders for backup purposes etc.
  • Evernote (Free)
    • This is a nice tool for making reminder notes or grocery lists and syncs with your smartphone and other computers so that you can access the lists anywhere.

Web Browsers

  • Google Chrome(Free)
    • This is my personal favorite. It is a light weight and quick browser with a minimalist user interface. It also has some perks such as cloud based syncing of your bookmarks and add-on’s.
  • Mozilla Firefox(Free)
    • Firefox is catching up to Google Chrome with respect to speed and the minimalist interface. This also has options for bookmark and add-on syncing.

Operating Systems

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2 comments

  1. Heidi Michalske · · Reply

    Great information, but what exactly does it mean that Windows XP will no longer be supported after 2014? Does that mean that if I had XP, I would have to install another windows program?

    1. Will · · Reply

      Hey,
      You will be able to continue using Windows XP but you will no longer get any Windows updates. Most people wouldn’t don’t care about Windows updates, but they are essential to keeping your computer secure. Windows currently provides important updates and security patches every Tuesday when applicable. Your 3rd party security programs (Norton, Webroot, etc) will not be as reliable because your operating system is not patched on a fundamental level. Once the support date arrives, Windows may offer discounted upgrades to those that are still using Windows XP. If you do upgrade to a later version of Windows there is no actual upgrade option so you would have to do a clean install of the new version of Windows. The other problem is that many of the computers that are running Windows XP will barely meet the minimum system requirements to run a newer version of Windows, so your computer may run very slowly. If this is the case then your best option would be to get a new computer with the latest version of Windows already installed.

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